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Best talent from the best surf

Heather-Lynn Evanson

Best talent from the best surf

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For an island of only 270 000 people, with few if any semi-professional leagues in any sport, to produce two of the world’s top junior surfers is fantastic.

This is the view of Barbados Olympic Association member Erskine Simmons who was speaking last week as the Barbados Surfing Association (BSA) rolled out the premier event on its calendar – the November Pro and the Junior ASP Soup Bowl Pro, scheduled for November 13 to 16 at Bathsheba.

Simmons, as he referred to this year’s success of Chelsea Tuach and Josh Burke, noted that Barbados had a number of surfers who had “done exceptionally well” and that the parent association had, through them, been a party to the National Sports Council’s Athlete Of The Year and Junior Athlete Of The Year.

“One of the issues we often forget is that whenever we do well in a sport, we’re only 270 000 people competing against others who have millions of athletes to choose from, who do this on a professional basis,” Simmons noted.

“We don’t have a semi-professional league or professional league in many of our sports so I think one has to look at this thing in the true perspective – that when our athletes do compete and do well, we’re doing it against the odds that we’re doing it against people who do this on a full time basis,” Simmons noted.

He also commended the BSA for putting on a successful event year after year for the past 30 years.

“There are not many sports that you can think of that have had a history of continually growing to the level [the November Pro] has grown over the years. There are other sports that have not had that kind of record,” he noted.

BSA president Chris Clarke said there was no mystery behind the recent success of local juniors in international competitions.

They have talent and it’s just a question of moulding it, he noted.

“These kids get involved in surfing from the time there are nine years, eight years. They are always around in the water but it is just to get the guidance through the Surfing Association and surf schools to prepare them for competing,” Clarke explained.

“They have the skills and the knowledge of the ocean; they just need the guidance and training,” he added.

In addition, Tuach, who had been on the top of many podiums in recent international, feels local surfers are blessed with some of the best wave conditions.

“We have top class waves. We have the best training grounds to produce the best surfers in the world because we can train in big waves, we can train in small waves, we can train in reef breaks. We just need guidance and more exposure,” she stressed, adding that’s why she was all for the idea of the ASP component to the November event. Meanwhile, BSA treasurer Louis Venezia has dismissed the idea that when Tuach and Burke eventually leave the world stage Barbados’ campaign will die.

“We have a big crop of younger kids who are following in their footsteps and trying to better themselves on the world stage,” he explained, adding that Tuach and Burke “have both won off of our shores in international waters at the same types of events”.